I asked in the last book (and I will keep asking till I get an swer) House Andrews or the mod. Please please what do I need to research on to get good understanding on how to develop such complex unique worlds and beings? I have narrowed it down to Xenobiology, Evolution and anthropology. Am I missing anything?Gail
I am a young writer who has a problem of not researching well before writing about something. I absolutely love science fiction fantasy like this and I do write things like this. But as I am considering self publishing I want to give it all I can. Please how does Ilona Andrews know how to classify alien races so well? What resources do they use to know these things. Like how they get the culture and social mechanisms and biological of aliens sound so authentic. Is there a guide out there?Hopeful Fan
Tell us the secret!
Oy. I guess I would recommend auditing a biology course at a local 4-year or community college. Just basic Zoology. And possibly something like Ecology, Evolution and Society from Texas State, although it will likely be sleep-inducing. Self-study won’t really get us there, because we’re looking for a systematic understanding of the biological principles. Self-study is great when you want to find out something about a specific subject, but we need to get a feeling for how biological organisms develop and interact with each other. A broad foundation.
Let’s take the Oomboles. There are certain cornerstones a budding civilization must hit to develop into a space-fairing nation. Two of those are using tools and communication.
A fish can’t effectively use tools. Fish do modify their environment. For example, male puffer fish build elaborate nests.
But anatomically they are limited to fins and mouths and things they could accomplish with those. If we want to make them use elaborate tools, we either need to modify their fins into tool-wielding appendages or give them tentacles.
When it comes to the underwater communication, people usually default to whales and dolphins, marine mammals. Vocalization requires an internal air supply, and it seems pretty obvious that it would be best accomplished by having lungs. While fish have a swimming bladder filled with air, it falls behind the lungs in noise producing capacity.
However, fish do vocalize.
They chirp, they click, they vibrate their air bladder, and some of them pass wind in a chorus.
As amusing as it would be to have a fish alien that communicates exclusively by farts, it’s hard to imagine complex exchanges taking place in this way. The fish also have a number of other sensory systems that help them orient and sample the chemical composition of water. To fish, chemical changes in their environment would be of critical importance, so they would detect when someone released the body fluids. But we’re not interested in those mechanisms for the time being because our fish would be out of the ocean in self-contained habitats.
However, we do know that most daylight fish have color vision that’s at least as good as a human’s. If we add brightly colored fins to the equation, a fin display becomes an effective and fast way to communicate. Also, humans find the fish fins and colors fascinating. We’ve been drawing them for thousands of years on all sorts of media including our own skin.
If we settle on find as a communication device, we will need some sort of translator. The oomboles probably don’t leave their oceans too often, and it would be logical that their tech might experience a malfunction here and there.
So here is the complex explanation of how oomboles work. That’s what most people would expect the process of creating an alien species should be like: a careful consideration of biological principles.
This is what actually happened. I was scrolling through Facebook and saw this video with a soundtrack.
And I went, “Hehe.”
That’s it. I had the oomboles. It took approximately 5 seconds. Within that first 5 seconds, I had the entire concept with the snow globe habitats, fins, and funny tech. And then I showed it to Gordon, and he thought it was funny, so we sat down and wrote it with zero research.
I did the research for this post, but at the time, I had enough basic biology to just drive on. The only snag was identifying the fish in the video because I wanted a pic of it for the post, but there weren’t that many signal blenny pics on the stock site, so it was time wasted.
I asked in the last book (and I will keep asking till I get an swer)… what do I need to research on to get good understanding on how to develop such complex unique worlds and beings?
I see this a lot, an idea that there is a secret formula writers are hoarding, a systematic approach that guarantees success. That you need extensive background preparation and note books filled with detailed notes on society and character’s birth signs. That there is a road map you must follow and milestones you must hit with complex plot diagrams and worldbuilding. And if you do all of that, you are guaranteed a compelling narrative.
We don’t do any of that. You know how much preparation we do before starting a new story? Zero. We sit down to write, and it either is something or it isn’t, but we won’t know until we write it. We research only when we absolutely have to.
Your writing comes from the complex mix of things that you are. Your aliens are just as unique and special as ours. They come from your unique set of life experience and knowledge, one we could never hope to replicate. If there was a formula and required reading, then publishing houses would churn out bestsellers by the dozen every Tuesday.
So if you absolutely want to get a good biological background, Zoology 101. Probably nature documentaries. If you set me before the tv with National Geographic documentaries on a loop, I will probably come up with all sorts of aliens in self-defense, because I would eventually get bored. My advice is to concentrate on filling your brain with cool stuff and see what happens.
Less focus on study and more on hehe.